A recent article posted over at BoLS got me thinking about this topic again. We've all heard stories about "that guy", the apocryphal bad sport who cheats, whines, games the rules/FAQs, the opponent or the judges, then when he doesn't get his way, rips his shirt in half like the Hulk, flips the table and runs out into the parking lot screaming.
I don't believe this guy really exists and in any case that's pretty extreme behavior for any setting. I do believe, however, that we can ALL take steps towards becoming better sports (and I do include myself). You know what I mean; actually earning that "10" in the sportsmanship category rather than accepting it as the default value.
Let's start with army lists, since that topic spurred me into writing this article. Now, to forestall griefing, flaming and other complaints, I'm going to talk about my Actions (what I do), my Expectations (the minimum I expect in return), and what I'd Like To See. To put it briefly, I try to keep my Actions above my Expectations and closer to what I'd Like To See in return. It's the Golden Rule, peeps.
Actions: When I go to a tournament, I bring the full-on, detailed, multi-paged version of the list that I use for myself. Then I print out five copies. One for the TOs, one for each opponent, and one extra just in case I lose mine. I do this primarily so that my opponents have a good reference of my army list, if they want it. Sometimes they don't! That's fine too.
Expectations: When someone hands me their list, I want to see the unit type, any upgrades they have, and points cost for said units/upgrades. I don't consider these to be optional. We've all heard the story about Tony K. being 3 points over at the NOVA Open. I think 3 points is BS and I don't believe it would have made any difference in the outcome of the tournament; the results of the Adepticon champ tourney proves that. But it makes me wonder how many overpointed lists slide by without being audited. Sad face!
Like To See: Frankly I'd like to see people do what I do. I don't care what tool you use to make your list, as long as I can piece it together afterward. See, I like to do post-mortems on my tourney experience and even write up full-tourney battle reports, and it's easier to do that if I can refer to a list.
Actions: I try to keep things light. Sure I'll groan at an especially bad die roll or celebrate winning a combat, but I get pretty exuberant just because I'm there. It's not often I'm let out of my hole, after all. I may argue about a rule if I have a different understanding about it than my opponent. I may have a hard time keeping morale going if I'm getting clobbered, but if I go into a tournament with the idea that I'm there to have fun, it's not that hard!
Expectations: This shouldn't be that hard to figure out. Be nice, answer questions, debate rules politely, don't be combative... does anyone really have to spell it out? This hasn't ever really been a problem for me; most of the people I've played against are polite and pleasant.
Like To See: It's a game. It's little plastic dudes going "pew! pew! pew!" at other little plastic dudes. If you lose sight of this basic fact, you are no longer having fun. Have some fun.